On Wednesday, in their Bubbleville — and 2020-21 season debut — the Florida Gators men’s basketball team needed to come back from early and halftime deficits to defeat Army.
On their way out of Bubbleville on Thursday, the Gators wasted little time laying waste to Boston College.
Powered by Keyontae Johnson and Tre Mann, Florida led from the 16:38 mark of the first half, by 20 points at halftime, and by as many as 31 points before settling for a 90-70 win over the Eagles at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
Johnson’s 24 points (on just 13 shots) and 12 rebounds in just 27 minutes gave him the first double-double of Florida’s year and the fourth 20-10 night of his career, while Mann followed up a career-best 19 points in the season opener with 17 points and six assists and committed just one turnover.
Florida had five players in double figures — starters Scottie Lewis (14 points on just six shots) and Noah Locke (12 points, 2-for-7 from three) were joined by reserve Omar Payne (10 points on six attempts) — and shot a very good 41.7 percent from three and a scalding 62.2 percent on its twos.
The Gators also played far more disciplined defense than in their opener, holding the Eagles to a poor 41.5 percent from the floor and a 33 percent mark from deep. (BC made three of its eight triples in the game’s final 6:23, after Mike White largely pulled his starters and slowed Florida’s tempo.) And though Florida only rarely went to the full-court press White has said he wants this team to be able to play, the Gators racked up eight steals, running their total in 80 minutes of play to 20.
In all, it was as comprehensively excellent a performance as Florida has put together in non-conference play in some time, with the Gators scoring with an ease largely unseen since their scintillating performance at the PK80 Invitational in 2017.
And as Boston College seems likely to be the second-toughest task of Florida’s COVID-edited non-conference schedule, such a throttling possibly portends good things when the Gators meet up with Florida State a week from Saturday.